hummingbird cakes & pineapple flowers
You’ll hear the term ‘summer simulation’ be thrown around here and there in the North. Supposedly it is what occurs during the depths of winter; someone sparks the idea of throwing a summer simulation fiesta and so, the heater is cranked until it’s a balmy 28˚C inside, the tropical cocktails make an appearance and the beach-ware is retrieved from the bottom of the drawer. I’m yet to see this in action. But when I do, I’ll be bringing these tropical, coconut and pineapple delights.
Hummingbird cake has always been a favourite of mine, bursting with the fruity flavours of banana, pineapple and coconut. But, in miniature form, hummingbird cakes can easily be mistaken for the humble banana muffin. Especially in true clean-eating form, these muffins, with barely a sweet nick from honey, could do with the nudge from a glamorous topper. These pineapple flowers are a doddle to make, and will take your dessert from good to gorgeous.
Wholewheat flour could be used in place of all purpose. I wanted a lighter cake this time (as it was dessert, not a hearty mid-morning meal I was after) so I used unbleached white four.
1 large pineapple
3 cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ cup honey (or agave syrup)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 3/4 cups mashed banana (about 3 – 4)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 can coconut milk, stored in fridge, upsidedown, for a couple of hours or overnight
For the pineapple
Preheat oven to 220˚F and line 2 or 3 baking trays with silmats or baking paper. Remove skin and head of pineapple. Using a paring knife or a small spoon remove the ‘eyes’. With a large sharp knife, slice pineapple into thin rounds, almost transparent. Lay the slices on baking trays and leave in oven for up to 2 hours, turning over half way through. They may take longer – keep dehydrating until starting to shrivel, brown at the edges and become dry to the touch. While still warm, place dehydrated slices in muffin pan and let sit for a couple of hours or overnight until completely dry and shaped like flowers.
For the hummingbird cakes
Lightly grease 24 muffin pan holes with baking spray.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir together eggs, applesauce, honey and oil, beat in the mashed banana, vanilla extract, and pineapple; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened – do not beat! Pour batter evenly into muffin pans – a large cookie scoop is handy here.
Bake at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and the muffins are springy to the touch. Remove from pans and let cool on wire rack.
For the coconut icing
Turn cold can of coconut milk upside up and remove top. Liquids will now be on the top. Pour them off (save for a curry or smoothie) and place the thickened coconut cream into a bowl. Beat with electric beater until firm; it will not become as firm as whipped cream but should have some hold. Add vanilla essence or honey to sweeten as desired.
No surprises here. Dollop coconut cream on cupcakes. Place dehydrated flower on top. Blow away your end-of-winter blues with a summer simulation fiesta.